Monthly Archives: April 2013

Cheap concealer is an insult to my face

The worst thing about unemployment is that I’ve been relegated back to using high street concealer. You notice the differences so much more acutely if you’ve had a taste of the good stuff and then are forced back to high street. Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat (retails for around £25) ingratiated itself onto my skin with a wand of the softest, most delicate fibres- as though it were being kissed on by cherubs. Rimmel’s Wake Me Up concealer (around £6) has a cumbersome solid stick that feels like an insult to my skin. Touche Éclat’s palest hue (for those with the type of translucent Celtic skin that can burn by standing too near a 60 watt light bulb) has a pink undertone that melds seamlessly with my colouring (or lack thereof). Rimmel’s palest hue, however, has a sickly, jaundiced undertone which means wearing it feels like a guilty admission that, yes, I have dark circles that need concealing. See, that is the main difference between expensive and cheap make up: the latter draws attention to itself with its gaudy colours and less blendable formulas, while the high end stuff  unobtrusively and decisively makes you look your best self. High end cosmetics are like the most exquisitely discreet butler, knowing just how to serve their employer best and with grace, while high street make up is the equivalent of a loud, terribly gossipy cabbie.  At least half of most celebrities’ allure is down to serious make up expertly applied. Seriously.

I’m not one for believing that dearer necessarily means better but when it comes to make up, forking out £20 more puts you in a whole different league. I haven’t splashed out on a lot of products, but there are a few that I swear by. Along with the fabled Touche Éclat, Estee Lauder Double Wear mascara, Nars Copacabana highlighter and Dior’s Rouge Zinnia lipstick are all unequivocally worth the extra money for the quality of colour, feel and effectiveness. Double Wear is the ONLY mascara I’ve ever used that physically can’t smudge. It’s also about something a bit more intangible than just ingredients and colours; it’s the tiny frisson of magic you get when opening the stylish packaging that makes you feel, well, special. Most people can’t afford designer clothing, but more can afford the cosmetics. Touche Éclat is the most popular luxury concealer, it is a mass market product that somehow still feels exclusive. And more importantly than that, it bloody works. There’s nothing for it, my face has been spoiled now and won’t accept anything else, living off beans for a while to justify splurging on replacing it? Seems sensible to me.

Capsule wardrobe: why?

Two words that strike irritation, bemusement and, yes, fear into my heart: “capsule” and “wardrobe”. I see this term bandied about as if its is something I should aspire to. It means having a wardrobe of basic staples which all go together. A sensible idea you might say, but for me I don’t want a sensible wardrobe, I want an organically grown, flagrantly ludicrous wardrobe. Nobody needs to own more than, say, two hats and one pair of sunglasses, but that’s where the fun is. Ill-advised sequin bolero? Yes, lovely. Neon pink leggings? I’ll have some of them. I did spring clean my wardrobe for the first time in my life last year as it had started to become its own entity and was taking over my bedroom. A lot of Primark guff got thrown away and I did like the pruning, but my wardrobe still remains a bloated, illogical beast and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having fun with what you wear is one of the best things about being a woman and I like to be able to express my mood and idiosyncrasies in my clothes. Capsule wardrobes, planned and purchased with military precision, do not gladden my heart. They’re taking all the joy out of a happy word with a dreary prefix. I wouldn’t like a “healthy macaroon”, say, or a “tax audit Prosecco”. That is capsule wardrobe sounds like to me.


In the stories this week about MP Chuka Umunna’s careless remarks, I was struck by the word used by the website he made the comments on to describe its exclusive clientele: “jetrosexuals”. This is the most cringe-worthy coined word I’ve ever come across. A bastardisation of the words “jet” and “metrosexual” to convey an image of cool, jet-setting, sexy people. It made me wonder what other words the suffix “-etrosexual” could be added to, to lend a sense of modern, urbane cool. Some of these, if not all, may be clutching at straws, but I wanted to alert people reading (ie my Mum) that someone,  somewhere  deemed the word “jetrosexual” viable, nay, desirable.

Betrosexuals- frequenters of Paddy Power
Kleptrosexuals- high end shoplifters
Getrosexuals- individuals who are assertive in their procurement of sexual favours and money
Textrosexuals- those who like texting
Debtrosexuals- those in debt who are styling it out
Satcrosexuals- A clumsy word for women whose views on love and romance have been disproportionately informed by Sex and the City.


Is forced contrition a valid concept?

Firstly, to people making gaffes on social media. There seems to be one of these stories a week. In the last week there have been two: Paris Brown, the 17-year-old “Youth Police Commissioner” in Kent who allegedly made violent, anti-gay and racist comments on Twitter; and Labour MP Chuka Umunna apologised for comments saying West End clubs “are full of trash and C-list wannabes.” It has just been announced that Paris Brown resigned today after only being appointed to the job last week, which is good as it looked as though she and her employer, Ann Barnes, looked to gloss over the comments. I will therefore concentrate my opinion on the comments made by Mr Umunna made on website aSmallWorld in 2006 – which were, in full: “Is it just me or is there a serious lack of cool places to go in Central London at the weekends. Most of the West End haunts seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes, while other places that should know better opt for the cheesy vibe.” Yes, the use of the word “trash” is crass and reveals a rather imperious attitude, but other than that I think his comments are true, West End clubs are like that! He issued a statement saying “We’ve all said and done things in our younger days that we regret – I’ve never claimed to be a saint and am no different. The choice of language I used in that post was inappropriate and stupid which is why I’ve whole-heartedly apologised.”

There’s always problems with public figures and social media. Someone’s being a dick on Twitter. Someone was a dick on Facebook. People have always said, and always will say, stupid things. In the past, the personal and professional/public spheres were somewhat separate, but social media has blurred them. Before social media, the stupid comment might have flitted off into the ether, perhaps hitting a few unwelcome ears and being challenged but ultimately remaining hard to prove and easy to deny; now they dangle in perpetuity on the web, waiting for someone to take offence.

I find it tedious to feel I should be offended by everything. Disagree? Yes. Shocked? Maybe. But offended? Not so much. I think we are now too quick to take offence to everything. It’s like social media and the internet has reminded everyone just what a lot of arseholes are really out there. But didn’t we know that before?

I imagine our media now a bit like a bloated, pompous, Victorian spinster aunt, swooning and castigating at the merest hint of offence and shouting down everyone with strangled cries of “Offensive! Offensive!” In a way, I feel like this over-readiness to find offence everywhere is a type of trolling, as it immediately shuts down any debate and renders the person speaking stripped of credibility. If we continue to find so much offence, it will stilt debate and lead to stasis. Yes, people should be held accountable if they say abhorrent things, as Paris Brown has been, but if you look for offence, you will always find it. Frankie Boyle was probably conjured from the fretful, Chablis-fuelled nightmares of middle England’s Daily Mail reading housewives. Without them poised in a continual state of “ready to be affronted when we’re told we should be”, men like him would be out of a job.

The crux is, would these people apologise for their comments had they not been pulled up by the media and felt their salary was in jeopardy? No. It’s the reality TV trope permeating into public life. Everyone must always “learn” something, there must always be a “journey”. Real life is not like that. Some people never learn their lesson. Others are taught the same harsh lesson over and over again when they’ve already learnt it. Some people go on a journey and come back even more of a wanker than they were before. The thing is, I quite like that. I like the unpredictability of things, that people say and do outrageous things that others would never dream of doing themselves. It gives us something to talk about. I don’t want to hear another forced apology trotted out by rote with the same platitudes: “I am/was young… I’ve learnt my lesson… I won’t do it again.” I don’t think forced contrition as a concept works. Surely, to find contrition it must be alighted upon by the person whose done wrong, not forced from external outrage. Then it is not true and merely devalues itself. Objectionable people are given the impression that they can say anything and apologise afterwards and it will all be ok. This is not a mature standpoint. For once, I’d like to see a public figure not apologise for something said that was deemed offensive, I’d like to see people stand by their words and convictions a bit more, even if I don’t agree with them. Or maybe, just maybe, see public figures who do not let their mask slip to show latent bigotry or idiocy. That would be nice.



So, after a hiatus in which I was twisting my soul in knots over a terrible guy (unrequited love: keeping publicans in trade since time immemorial), quitting my job and trying to find a plan for reticent talents and a rather unfortunately insistent ambition, the blog was neglected – with just one forlorn post languishing like an unwanted Christmas present. The upshot of all this soul searching is that I am now on the dole. Bad news for the media monitoring industry, good news for fans of sub-Caitlin Moran musings. She may crop up in a later article- she’s funny and I’ve just read her book. I, alas, am not funny, at least not in person. I may be in writing as with this you don’t have the immediate audience feedback of a tumbleweed hewn from failed punch lines dawdling past/look of bemusement and/or pity followed by an edging away. Is there a worse sound than a forced, indulgent laugh? I think not. I hear “Well done, you’ve attempted a funny, but laughter is an involuntary reaction I can’t fake, so what I’ll do is just make a sort of short braying sound and hope you are fooled, lest you become discouraged.” Anyway, I digress. Welcome back to my blog, thanks for reading – I will try to keep the posts a lot more consistent so if you check back every few days there should be more stuff up.